Issue 04      

Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of Dialogue magazine in 2022.

As we extend a warm welcome to our new Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O’Brien, who started her role on 4 January, we also look forward to several new and exciting developments to come.

Why not take a look at our staff survey results, get to know our new leader for equality and inclusion, or read about how our Careers and Enterprise and Disability Support teams joined forces to make a new work experience programme for autistic students and graduates a success?

If you have anything coming up in 2022 that you'd like to share with our University community, get in touch via

We hope you enjoy reading this issue, and remember, if you would like to receive Dialogue direct to your inbox, you can do so by subscribing to our magazine.


Welcome to Professor Karen O’Brien, our new Vice-Chancellor and Warden.

Professor O’Brien became the 25th Vice-Chancellor in our near-200-year history when she took up her position on 4 January.

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Lighting up Durham City and County Durham

Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival, returned to Durham back in November, and once again we were a major partner. Over four evenings, around 140,000 people visited the festival, which extended beyond Durham City and across County Durham, making it the most ambitious edition of Lumiere yet.

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Esports partnership with LDN UTD in UK university first

We have become the first UK university to form a collaboration with social purpose driven esports organisation LDN UTD. Working with LDN UTD, the partnership will bring the benefits of esports to students, as well as the wider Durham community.

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A new leader for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

We’re working to build an environment that is respectful and where people feel comfortable to be themselves and flourish.

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Making a difference: Staff survey 2021 results

In summer 2021, over 2,300 colleagues completed our staff survey. The responses provide a sound basis for future areas of focus and were consistent with feedback we’ve received from across the institution in recent months. This means that we’ve already started to work on many of the issues raised.

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Discover my world

Scientists’ model suggests alien encounters are on the horizon

A team of scientists say that ‘grabby aliens’ are needed to explain why we humans have appeared so soon after the big bang, and that our descendants would encounter them in roughly a billion years’ time.

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Apes show similar interaction patterns to humans

A new study led by experts from our Department of Psychology has revealed that apes such as chimps and bonobos show striking similarities to humans in how they interact using signals.

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Bioscience students take key role in ground-breaking bacterial research

Undergraduate students from our Biosciences Department have joined forces with some of our leading academics, as well as colleagues from Northumbria and Liverpool Universities to identify two defence systems that protect bacteria from viruses.

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Women sidelined for leadership roles in sport

Women’s participation in sport as athletes and fans is at an all-time high, yet men continue to outnumber women in positions of power in sport, in particular football.

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Durham inspires

DU Internships

Careers & Enterprise has recently launched the DU Internships which provides a stream-lined and supported process for departments within the University to employ an intern.

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Durham researchers named among world’s best

Three of our professors have been named among the world’s best for the quality and influence of their research, highlighting the global strength of Durham’s research.

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A healthy environment for our community

The strategic oversight of the University’s commitment to Biodiversity and ecosystems across our University Estate is managed by the Biodiversity Sub-Group, a sub-committee of our Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group (ESSPG) that was established earlier this year.

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Infrastructure improvement project completion

We are pleased to announce that our infrastructure improvement project was completed in summer 2021.

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Employ Autism: Work experience programme for autistic students and graduates

Our Careers and Enterprise team is here to help students to make career plans and take the next step towards getting them to where they want to be.

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Further multi-million pound boost for company creation

After being awarded a further £3.6m from Research England, North East university collaboration Northern Accelerator is building on its successful programme and continuing for an additional two years.

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Reaching out: Engaging, enthusing and inspiring science

Bringing research to the public’s attention isn’t just about drafting and sending out press releases. Outreach work allows our academics to involve people with the research that shapes their lives, and our Science Outreach Team provides a range of award-winning activities aimed at stimulating interest in science among young people, their teachers and the wider community.

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Student musicians record music for Lumiere light festival

A specially created ensemble made up of some of our most talented student musicians has recorded the soundtrack to the centrepiece of last year’s Lumiere light festival.

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Durham’s partnership with the Council for Assisting at Risk Academics (CARA)

We are pleased to announce that our CARA fellowship programme has been expanded by five additional placements for this academic year.

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In conversation with Kayo Chingonyi

Prize winning writer Kayo Chingonyi, an Assistant Professor in our Department of English Studies tells us about how poetry has been a central part of his life and his involvement in Lumiere light festival in 2021.

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